The Union Cabinet on Tuesday recommended President's rule in Maharashtra even as top leaders from the NCP, Congress and Shiv Sena were holding a flurry of consultations in a bid to tot up the numbers and resolve the impasse over government formation in the state.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting of the cabinet in the afternoon to discuss the stalemate in Maharashtra where no party has been able to form government after the assembly polls last month. The cabinet decided to recommend to the president that Central rule should be imposed in the state, sources said.
Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, who had given the Nationalist Congress Party time till 8.30 pm on Tuesday to express its "willingness and ability" to form government and time being of the essence, has submitted a report to President Ram Nath Kovind recommending President's rule in the state.
"He is satisfied that the government cannot be carried on in accordance with the Constitution, (and therefore) has today submitted a report as contemplated by provision of Article 356 of the Constitution," said a tweet from his office.
The governor had turned to the NCP after the Shiv Sena could not prove that it had enough numbers.
The Shiv Sena, which was trying to form a coalition government with the support of the NCP and the Congress, may move the Supreme Court against the governor's refusal to grant more time for government formation, party leaders indicated.
With 54 MLAs, the NCP is the third largest party after the BJP (105) and the Shiv Sena (56) in the 288-member House, where the halfway mark is 145. The Congress has 44 MLAs.
The Union cabinet's decision came as Congress chief Sonia Gandhi despatched three senior leaders to Mumbai for talks with the NCP and Shiv Sena's Sanjay Raut reiterated his party's commitment to hold the reins of power.
Gandhi spoke to NCP chief Sharad Pawar on the phone and authorised Ahmed Patel, Mallikarjun Kharge and K C Venugopal to hold discussions with Pawar for further talks on the issue of forming the state government.
"Congress President Smt.Sonia Gandhi spoke to Shri.Sharad Pawar today morning and deputed Shri Ahmed Patel, Shri.Mallikarjun Kharge and myself for holding further discussions with Shri.Pawar," Venugopal tweeted.
"We three are going to Mumbai now and will meet Shri.Pawar at the earliest."
Earlier in the day, Gandhi also held talks with the party's core team members A K Antony and Venugopal at her residence.
Patel is also learnt to have held a telephonic conversation with Pawar over working out modalities with the NCP on government formation.
In the midst of the ongoing political drama, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and Pawar separately met Raut at Mumbai's Lilavati Hospital where the latter underwent an angioplasty procedure.
Raut had led the Sena's charge for equal share in power with the BJP after the Assembly poll results in Maharashtra.
With power seemingly slipping out of his grasp, the ailing leader quoted poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan to reaffirm his party's resolve to succeed and not give up.
"Lehron se dar kar nauka paar nahi hoti, himmat karne waalon ki kabhi haar nahi hoti" (the boat that qualms the waves never gets across, those who dare do not lose).
The 57-year-old Rajya Sabha member also tweeted, "Hum honge kamyaab, zaroor honge" (We would succeed, definitely).
The NCP president was accompanied by his grandnephew and MLA Rohit Pawar. What transpired between the leaders of the two parties during the meet was not immediately known.
The Shiv Sena had suffered a setback in its efforts to cobble up a non-BJP government in Maharashtra with the Congress at the last moment announcing its decision to hold more talks with ally NCP on supporting the Uddhav Thackeray-led party.
The president has accepted the resignation of Shiv Sena MP Arvind Sawant from the Union council of ministers with immediate effect, a Rashtrapati Bhavan spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Sawant's resignation was accepted on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, according to the spokesperson.
Sawant had on Monday announced his resignation from the Union cabinet, saying it would not be proper to continue as a union minister when a new government is being formed in Maharashtra.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)